Etienne Boulanger was born in Longeville-lès-Metz (France) in 1976 and died in New York (USA) in 2008. He studied at Fine Arts in Nancy (France), and graduated in 2000 ( DNSEP).
Etienne Boulanger’s research is focused on the re-appropriation of transitory zones. He produced cunning and intrusive interventions within the urban environment and also ephemeral installations in art galleries and institutions. As a nomadic artist, he wandered through the cities which are the symbols for the "metropolization" process such as like Berlin, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo or New York. He located gaps, fallow lands, and residual spaces in order to take over the place using a clever masking strategy. His works, set up on site, do not represent nor reproduce objects. The temporary interventions and the clandestine occupation of these places, are meant to cast a critical look on our environment. Through active discretion, he exchanged ideas with the other users of these spaces.
Etienne Boulanger also used a large number of media to keep a record of his work, from location to the eventual results of his actions. He systematically displayed photographs, slides and videos but also photocopies, drawings, plans, maps and other writtings during exhibitions. That documentation came from a methodical yet not too rigid process, and was considered by the artist as an evolutive database, the report of a process, just like cities in perpetual mutation.
SOLO EXHIBITION / INTERVENTIONS
lives life to the fullest through a noble and arduous artistic practice,
giving his all. He has the conviction which gives him the strength to
work day after day, from morning to night, his hands in plaster of paris,
covered in dust and head held high. The conviction which gives him the
courage and the desire to live life dangerously and to the fullest at
the four corners of the earth. Shaping his art.
Etienne Boulanger constantly fights against the standardization of our lives, he fights against everything being rationalized, against consumerism, against insidious power, against authority. He ardently defends the right to be different, alternative, a rebel, clandestine, and free. On closer examination, Etienne Boulanger optimizes an infinite subversive potential. His works conveyhis acute view of the evolution of society and the benevolent sign that addresses the insignificance of our lives.
His work is based on a tried and tested method, which consists of exploring, observing, elaborating, intervening and sometimes living his work. Rigor, adaptation, and commitment are also involved in the process.
In 2001, after graduating
from the Nancy's Fine Arts School, Etienne Boulanger went to Berlin where
he stayed for two years. Barely enough time to set up a project hence
just as crazy as ambitious : Plug in Berlin.
When he came back to France after this experimental episode, Etienne Boulanger created the display to show the results of his Berlin period: interactive maps, photographs, videos. The steps of his work, which he entitled Temporary archives, are then shown in the city open spaces. He invaded, for few days a storefront in Metz and built one of his ephemeral constructions. That's where he presents his artwork, shares and speaks about it with intelligence and shows to the world the presence of an artist radically committed to his art.
Etienne Boulanger's interest in large urban changes took him to China, in 2004. Four years before the world had its eyes fixed on Beijing, he was exploring the capital of China observing the plans meant to destroy the working-class areas, the surveillance systems of the Olympic Games worksites, and the busy traffic in this city which moves with the current. In China, Etienne Boulanger played the parasite game - disapproval, which didn't aim to stop the irreversible process but rather constrain it on a symbolic level. A gesture. A pile of bricks. A tarpaulin pulled across. Traffic diverted. Or stopped. A neighbourhood cut off. Fortified. Protected.
In 2005, back in France for a few months Etienne Boulanger fully invested himself in several projects, particularly a personal exposition at the Interface Gallery in Dijon. After spending his time exploring large cities and pirating public spaces, he found himself closed up in a Gallery where he was involved in a process of « cancelling space ». For several weeks Etienne Boulanger worked and erected more than thirty meters of walls until the space became mute and blind. Then he methodologically ripped these walls open, pierced through them to create a pathway, and destroyed what others might have seen as a finished piece of work. He design a landscape of ruins.
In 2006, Etienne Boulanger was recovering from a knee injury in spite of still suffering from a knee injury (the result of an accident during his Dijon work). In spite of this, he finished the residence he had started in 2005 with the Frac Alsace and Frac Lorraine. He was then working on borders, on the presence of different types of forces in the Shengen zone, which is supposed to be freed from controls. Then he went back to Beijing for several months.
In 2007, he came back to France, in Orleans, for a residence in Mixar. He built a series of brilliant original and subversive works, which fitted in well with the sculptures which had been officially ordered for the tramway line. He defined his own space by positioning himself in a simple matter.
2007 was also the year of an outstanding project, which he carried out in Berlin : Single Room Hotel. A hotel room which is camouflaged by billboards. A fully equipped 22 square meter 2 star hotel room was built on a wasteland. The German press and television took up the story. Etienne's work really fascinates and surprises. The room was fully booked for the duration of the project.
Because of the abundance
and diversity of his young career, in 2007 Etienne Boulanger was awarded
the prestigious Edward Steichen Award in Luxembourg. This award took him
in 2008 to New York for 6 months, to the ISCP: International Studio and
Etienne Boulanger's career was at that point, already well on track and full of energy. His life and his art, everything was ahead of him. For us, it was obvious. There was no doubt about it, we had projects, we were ready...